Kenny Saint Brown, one of Nigeria’s popular gospel artistes, formerly married to Eddy Montana of the defunct Remedies Musical Group, explains why she had to quit the marriage. She also talks about the accident her car was involved in recently. She spoke with ‘NONYE IWUAGWU.
Your brand new car was involved in an accident recently. How did it happen?
It was actually my driver that was in the car; I was not there. The driver said he didn’t know what happened to him. He left his lane. The accident was terrible. It was a chain of accident. The sad part of it is that the car has only a third party insurance.
What is the brand of the car?
It is a Geely Executive. It was actually a gift from somebody. It is a very beautiful car. I have refused to go and look at it since the accident occurred. I just don’t want to see it until it is repaired. I believe that whatever accident would make the air bags of the car to pop, should be a very serious one. The police have not released it yet. If they release it, I guess it will be taken to Geely. I don’t want to use any quack panel beater or mechanic.
But you are gradually getting over the loss?
I am getting over it but not financially. I don’t even have the money to repair the car. I have a lot of things to do with money now. I have to do the videos of my new album. A lot of things are demanding for money and I just cannot meet all of them now.
Talking about album, we hear you have a new album.
Oh yes, it is titled Turn Around. Things are really turning around for me. I have faith in God for restoration from whatever loss I have experienced. This is a turnaround from the past to a new beginning. It is a material track. I ask God for physical things, the things that I need personally. If you can identify your needs, you can also wish them for yourself. Anybody who needs a turnaround, in her finances or marital life needs to ask God for a turnaround. Some people took loans from banks to buy shares, the shares have gone down in value and they have lost everything and the banks are even calling for their monies. Such people just have to cry to God that they need a turnaround.
So, it is another gospel album?
If you call it gospel, then it is gospel. If you call it secular, it is secular. Whatever you call it, the issue is that in my own case, I am experiencing a turnaround. To tell the truth, these are times that songs should work something for you. Songs should inspire and motivate you. These are not the times that you should be singing, ‘praise the Lord’ only. These days, even people who are not entirely gospel artistes can do songs that are motivational because the songs will bring good news to people’s souls.
But the album is not out yet.
No. But the single, Turn Around, is being played on the radio. It is enjoying massive air play and topping the charts.
You featured Da Grin in the single.
Yes. He is a Yoruba rapper. He specialises in dialect rap. It was produced by Sheyman. Meanwhile, I have other tracks by other producers. One was produced by ID Cabassa. Another one was produced by Terry G.
Apart from Da Grin, are you featuring other artistes?
Yes. One of the songs will feature Rooftop MCs and the other one is featuring 9ice. It is a work in progress. There can be a twist here and there.
How far have you gone with the video?
I have not shot any video yet. These days, you don’t just shoot videos anyhow, especially with Kenny Saint Brown. We have been here for a long time. With the kind of standard the industry accepts now, I don’t think I will do anything below standard.
You have had like three albums since you joined the industry, but some people would say that the last two did not make as much impact as the first one…
You may not be wrong and you may not be right. It is your opinion. The first album had ‘You are Worthy Lord’ track. That album was for that time. If you bring back that track for this season, it will not work. This is not the era when somebody will just bring praise songs only. People are going through challenges. You need to be real with your songs. I am not saying praise is not real but people want you to deliver something much more than that. They need something that can soothe their pains right now. For that time, that first track did the job it had to do. The album that followed it made a hit. But it depends on your own judgment. Even the album that followed it, PIMP, worked even before I had my crisis. With the crisis, I couldn’t go on with the promotion of the album. Then I had the break and I had to stop singing. I had to pause a while and think. I had to know what God was telling me to do next.
It was the experience that gave birth to my asking for a turn around. I think each of my album recorded success. But watch out for this new album. I re-branded last year. As at the time I was re-branding, I didn’t know what style my music would take. I just knew God had started something with my personality and I knew that it would bring about a change in the style of my songs.
So are you still a gospel artiste?
Call me anything. I am an artiste. I am what you call me.
But what do you call yourself?
I am an inspirational, God-based artiste. This is real life, real experience. If you brand me gospel and it suits somebody who is supposed to benefit from my songs, then that have you achieved. Or is it when you brand me gospel artiste and a radio station only plays my songs on Sundays? These are the issues gospel music face.
If branding you gospel would make limited people feel the impact of your songs, then you have to re-brand. I am just a messenger. I need people to get blessed.
Would say your re-branding is making an impact on the lives of people?
A particular DJ told me that for the little while he had been playing my songs, he had experienced a turnaround. It is not everybody that will come out and say how the song has touched him or her. Personally, I am experiencing the turn around in a rapid form.
See, I just got a brand new car. I know that even if the Devil decided to take it, I will get a restoration.
Is it not amazing that you are still strong after your marriage crashed?
This is not a front. You can only front for a while. If you continue fronting, you will collapse and the real you will come out. You can only pretend to be who you are not to some extent. If I feel like crying now, you will see the reason I am crying and you will even join me to cry. And guess what? I will be the one who will even stop you from crying because I will be healed immediately.
So, your album was based on your personal experience?
Yes. I had to take a break after the crash of my marriage, which was in the public glare. It could have wrecked me but I didn’t allow it to wreck me. It could have crippled some people and lower their self esteem, but I didn’t allow that to happen to me. Rather, it made me stronger. Since I am stronger, I could only ask God for a turn around and He has given it to me.
Tell us about the crisis you had…
I don’t really want to talk about that. Marriage, generally, is not all that rosy. I am different. I am a strange person. I am very peculiar. I want the Bible to be real. I am one of those people who want to take one scripture and read that scripture for a while. That scripture will bring different experiences into my life. The ultimate thing is that there is a glory that is set before every scripture. I want to experience that glory even if it brings me to near to a death experience. I am sure that I had said some prayers in the past that brought the kind of relationship I entered into my way, to see if truly that prayer can turn to flesh and dwell among men, whereby glory can be given to God.
Having said that, as a Christian, there is no difference between the real you, the ‘wife you’, the ‘mother you’, the ‘sister you’ and the ‘friend you’. When marriage comes, it is going to take that ‘you’. I have come to know that marriage is very demanding. It does not only take your money. What it takes most is your emotion. The real you has a way of keeping your emotions refilled; marriage cannot break you.
Is that why you are still strong? You didn’t allow the marriage to break you?
Yes. If you don’t have a force feeding you back, you cannot make it; you will collapse. Forget whether you are a pastor or a Christian. It is not all about that. Every marriage makes a demand; it demands money from some people, it demands attention from some people. For some people, they have to submit their will. The wife is told not to even go to church or serve the God she serves. It even demands anal sex from some people. And they will even say the Bible said you should submit. People go through stuff. I tell you, marriage is mean. My mother told me that marriage is an institution you will get in and you will not graduate. It is either you expel yourself or it expels you. It is highly sacrificial.
Like I said earlier, I don’t want to talk about my marriage.
But some people enjoy their marriages.
The beauty of marriage is when you give and your partner gives back to you. But you don’t have to ‘out give’ yourself. The moment you do that, you die. Marriage is a living thing. Marriage breathes. If I am giving out carbon dioxide and I don’t take in oxygen, I will die. Marriage can sap you. There is so much demand on you to give. You have to give to his mother, to the children and to him, the husband. That is the way God has made us. But for crying out loud, I need something in return. If you cannot give me something back, then you are not worth being a man.
But no matter how bad the marriage is, some traditions frown at separation and even divorce.
Yes. Tradition and religion will tell you to stay in that marriage. I tell you, God does not like divorce, but He likes divorcees. God does not like divorce but does He now hate me as a divorcee? Was He not seeing that you were under torture and the glory He had put in you could not be expressed because your self esteem has been touched?
Let me tell you, the moment you come out of that torture, He will release grace to you. If God does not want you to divorce, he will not give you grace that will bring about your rebirth. He will keep you in denial and you will wither like a flower that has been under the scorching sun and you will be no more.
So you are saying that you found peace just as you came out of your marriage and now you are breathing oxygen?
Sure. I got a lot of oxygen. That is what you need most. In a situation where you have kids, the next generation has been handed into your hands to mould. You cannot produce children that will come to the world and become lesbians and man haters because they have seen how much their father has abused their mother. The seed of unforgiveness toward their father will produce a seed that will destroy the next generation.
It is important that you heal. That is what matters most.
But in your sober moments, do you wish the marriage had worked out?
Wish? There is no ‘wishing’ here. It was a journey that had to come to an end. But the most important thing was that God was waiting at the other end. He was waiting for me to make it to the finishing point where I would not keep malice. He was waiting for me to make it to the end where this thing would happen and I would totally forgive. The marriage had to end. Job had to lose his children and go all through the pains so that he could enter a new phase.
So you may not go back even if your ex husband comes back…
We are not talking marriage here. That phase is dead! There is no resurrection! Leave it. If you don’t mind, lets not get into that story again. I have finished that era, please. If you continue asking me about it, I will get into spiritual talks. Job was not given back the things he lost; he entered into a new glory.
I have forgiven, but the fact that you forgive someone does not mean that you should go back and cage yourself. I have a new life now. You just have to let the Lord fight for you. That experience was a test and I passed it. I have forgiven him. It was for my own good that I forgave him. I do not keep any malice.
Do you plan to remarry?
This is not the time to talk about that. But if God wills it, why not? Who doesn’t want love? Forget about the husband issue. Come to think of it, who doesn’t want a good companion? If a new nourisher comes, why not? If you cannot nourish me, then leave me let me nourish myself. Forget about all this husband issue; it is just a signboard.
But it is a tradition for a woman to be in her husband’s house.
Thank God I have been delivered from that tradition. I have the next generation to hand over to. I have my kids and they are the most important people in my life now.
Do you subscribe to the view that a woman should leave her marriage if it is not working out?
When you know you cannot bear it any longer, run for your dear life and go get your healing. The next generation, your children, have been handed to you, so you have to take care of them. What if you stay back and your children learn to become men haters and women hitters? You will create another person like your husband or another person like you, if you allow the pains to touch the next generation.
Why do you think we do not have a lot of female musicians in this country?
Is it not this same marriage problem? Check it, how many female musicians are still together with their husbands? It is not easy, because they don’t always get the support they need. You simply cannot do it. It does not always work, especially when you even make your husband your manager. You just have to be focused if you want to do this thing.
If it weren’t for your brothers or Kennis Music, do you think you would have become a musician?
I think so. Let me tell you, I have been a singer for a long while before Kennis Music. I was a member of the choir when I was in England. In fact, I was supposed to be a pastor. I was a member of the prayer group before my pastor said I should join the choir.
I was in England when I recorded my first stuff and I told Kenny about it before he said I should bring it. He listened to it and he said, ‘Girl, you have the talent.’ That is just it. Music is in me. I love what I do.
I just allowed God to take charge. I was an ambitious person but I have turned that into a vision. My brothers didn’t even set out to be in entertainment, though they read communication arts. It is all God’s will.